VALLEE-JONCTION, QC- Veteran Mark Dilley wasted little time in familiarizing himself with Autodrome Chaudiere, coming home with a second place finish in his first career visit to the Quebec bullring in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series ‘Budweiser 300’.
The Barrie, ON driver qualified 6th and worked quickly to move into the top-3 by lap-20.
“Our game plan all day was to have this car set-up for longer runs”, explained Dilley. “So, we weren’t too worried about our qualifying effort. We were happy with 6th, because we knew the event would segment itself into longer green flag runs”
Dilley bided his time in 3rd until lap-75, eventually slipping into 2nd spot behind leader Jason Hathaway.
“The first half of this race played out almost exactly as we thought it would”, said Dilley. “We didn’t get a caution until lap-126, which gave us a great opportunity to ride within the top-3, stroke off some laps and save our equipment”
“We knew there would be a mandatory break at lap-150, so we didn’t want to push our luck or get too wild through the first half of the race”
The Leland Industries/Johnsonville Sausage No. 02 snatched the lead for the first time on lap-154, shortly after the competition caution. Kick starting a battle with Hathaway that would run for the remainder of the 300-lap event.
“Kerry [Micks], Ryan Battilana and the rest of the team did a great job making adjustments during the break. Especially since we were missing three members of our team – including [Crew Chief] Rino [Montanari] – who were at a wedding this afternoon”, reflected Dilley. “We had an awesome car for the second half of the race”
Dilley and Hathaway would race side-by-side, swapping the lead a total of six times, bringing the packed Chaudiere grandstand to its feet.
“That was classic short track racing”, said Dilley of the 5-star battle, “as a racer, that’s what I’m all about. We bounced, we bumped, we pushed and we shoved, but at no point were we looking to wreck one another. That’s what this style of racing is meant to be”
“We were able to clear Jason [Hathaway] just before the last caution came out on lap-285 to set us up for the Green-White-Checkered”, continued the longtime national tour veteran, “we were trying our best to keep things cool for a late-race push. I kept getting loose and heating up the rear tires”
As the field picked up the green for the final time, Dilley worked feverishly to work around Hathaway on the outside, falling just short of the eventual race winner.
“It would’ve been fantastic for the entire team to start off our oval season with a win, but it’s impossible to be mad with second after a race like that”, offered Dilley. “This team worked nonstop on this program over the off-season, and I’m happy I could give them a runner-up finish today. We’ll go home and check our notes, and see what we can do to make this car even better for Edmonton”
Mark Dilley will return to action at Edmonton International Raceway for the ‘Alberta Has Energy 300’ on July 11th.
Mark Dilley’s 2014 campaign is powered by Leland Industries, Johnsonville Sausage, Dickies, Beyond Digital Imaging, Castrol Canada, Cathcart Trucking, Thor Motors, Sam Ester, Candy Tree Gourmet Lollipops and Seguin Marina.
-Mark Dilley Team Press Release. Photo Credit: Greg MacPherson